Making paracording a (side) business....

Discussion in 'General Paracord Discussion' started by TLCparacord, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. TLCparacord

    TLCparacord New Member

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    Hi guys,
    Just wondering if anyone is somewhat successful with selling paracord items. I'm more curious as to what your approach is (ex: craft fairs, word of mouth, consignment, etc..). I've tried ebay, but it's flooded with paracord items, and is so cheap! How can you compete and make money?
    I've tried craft fairs in the past (see attached pic), but that's a "hit or miss" at best. I've even seen bracelets sold in Home Depot and Target. Again, how you compete?!?!
    If anyone has any input that would be greatly appreciated.

    Thx!!
     

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  2. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    You bring up a great point of these places selling paracord items cheap. The problem is the cheap paracord items are just plain junk that these stores sell. I've found a place online where I can get any quantity of paracord bracelets, key fobs, etc. for a very low price. With that said I can then turn around and sell these bracelets, key fobs, etc. at a price that no one can beat.

    BUT the paracord items I'm talking about are made in China out of inferior materials. So this isn't a option for me and my paracord company.

    There was a few dollar stores in my area that was selling paracord bracelets around the same time I decided to start selling paracord bracelets. They sold the bracelets for $2.00! How could I compete with that when I was selling mines for $5.00?
    Easy! My wife's nieces and nephew bought some of the bracelets so the nephew brought to my attention how the dollar store was selling the bracelets and they like them but they don't last long.
    So I gave him one of my bracelets to compare and educate his friends. I never got the chance to see one of those $2.00 bracelets for two reasons, 1. The kids lost theirs after the plastic buckle broke. 2. The dollar store stopped selling them. My guess is due to complaints about the buckle breaking but I'm not sure.

    My wife's nephew and his friends liked my bracelets so much that I started selling them to my wife's nephew wholesale (small quantities) so he can sell them and make a little money.

    Now since my story is over now its time to get to the point. You CAN'T compete with those China made paracord bracelets, key fobs, etc. BUT you can educate your potential buyers on the quality of your paracord products. To the consumer all the paracord bracelets are the same. This is where you come in and explain to them the major differences between their bracelet and yours.
    Sometimes it will be easy to educate them sometimes it won't.

    Since I know my paracord products inside and out I can go to the stores that sell the cheap stuff and just laugh at the quality control. I've seen some bracelets that were tied very loose, uneven knots, really thin buckle, etc.

    It's not easy standing out since stores decided to go the wholesale route and got bit by the survival bug and the paracord survival bracelet craze. But this is what we are faced with and small independent paracord crafters.

    When I sell someone one of my products I try to educate them on the truth about paracord and its usefulness. Those so called survival paracord bracelets are a disgrace but yet people market these cheap inferior paracord as being used for survival but in fact the best you can use it for is drying your clothes outside in the backyard on a hot summer day.

    I remember when I was in a home improvement store about three years ago and I took a pic of the display that was selling 50 foot hanks of so called paracord for $2.99 each. After almost dying from laughter I decide to read the so called paracord and its rated for 100lbs. So I put it down and walked away just shaking my head.

    I'm very passionate about the things that I sell and I had quite a few job as a salesman so I make it a point to learn the product(s) I sell inside and out. So that is why I can explain to my customers the survival uses of real paracord and how to know if your getting the real deal or a suckers deal. I wish I could find at least one liked minded person in my area that has the same passion for paracord and business as I do because together we could work together and educate a lot more people and make a lot more money.
     

  3. TLCparacord

    TLCparacord New Member

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    Thank you, MrParacord for your reply! I feel the same way. Everything I make MUST be the best, and the buyer must get nothing less. I also am an avid woodworker, and design and fabricate custom poker tables (hence, my forum name). My tables MUST be perfect before leaving my shop.
    I also shake my head at the bracelets I see in retail stores, and know that people DON'T know what's good and not good.
    Aside from the apparent market being flooded with bracelets, the only way to stand out is education (as you spoke of), and making unique weaves that cannot be mass produced.
    I also get people who truly appreciate the craft.....those are the best people to deal with :)

    I guess moving forward with sales will always be a challenge. I was thinking about creating a website or a facebook page, but we'll see!

    Thanks again for reply!!!
     
  4. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    Now remember with you "unique weaves" you have to consider how long it will take for the customer to untie that bracelet, key fob, etc in the event that they need to use the paracord.
    A unique design will set you apart in the market but try to make it easy to untie and not overly complicated because that could potentially frustrate the customer more when their under stress due to needing the paracord in the first place.

    As far as social media goes why not make a FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest page now. If you do PM the links and I'll send you my links.

    Websites are hit or miss. If you start out on some of those craft selling sites you won't take all the risk like you will with building your own website. Plus the costs will be lower with those craft selling sites.
     
  5. TLCparacord

    TLCparacord New Member

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    I will definitely look into a FB page since I have a person page and a business page (for my tables)....the rest of the social media I'm unfamiliar with (instagram, twitter, etc.). As far as a website goes, I was thinking about using Wix.com since it's free and look half way decent. I'm in no rush though.....
     
  6. knottystuff4u

    knottystuff4u Paradude

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    gettin' in da bidness

    TLC, we've done pretty good in the last year and a half, ourselves. We started out just trying to satisfy a community service requirement for our kids' schools, and it's since blossomed into something fun and profitable. I guess a large part of our success is the fact that we are in Houston, and there are buttloads of craft shows, and the like, around here. Check the craft show websites, like craftmasternews.com and fairsandfestivals.net. They've both helped us find places to set up. Most were reasonably priced, a couple have been stupid expensive, but the exposure paid off. Right now, we have a Facebook page for exposure, and an Etsy store, where we've made a load of sales from. I'm always looking for other avenues of what I can supply for craftsmen/ladies, so it doesn't stagnate.
    My philosophy is, yeah, others can make things cheaper than me, but I make them way better, and people really don't mind paying for quality and the customizability of what I offer. They can go buy a blue and black cobra stitch bracelet from Wally world for $2, but that's all they'll get. I offer custom color or pattern in a whole world of stitches/weaves, and I can get it to them in 10 minutes or so at a show. That's worth an additional $8 to more people than you'd think. If I can answer anything else, just ask.:)KS4U
     
  7. TLCparacord

    TLCparacord New Member

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    Thanks for the reply, KS4U! I plan on a FB page soon, and will also look into Etsy as well! I also plan on more craft shows, but not super confident about them, based on past shows. Some we killed...others, not even a single zipper pull. We do have a few BIG fairs that are very hard to get into, and are HUGE attractions. I think they run around $300-$400 for the weekend. While sales are more probable, I'm not sure if the payoff would be worth it. Perhaps I'm be a bit pessimistic. Either way, I will certainly try new avenues! Oh, BTW - Your pages look great!...I hope mine will look just as good! Thanks again for your reply!
     
  8. knottystuff4u

    knottystuff4u Paradude

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    Appreciate the compliments. I'm sure your pages will be awesome. It's hard to say what will pay off and what won't. We've paid 200 bux for a 1 evening and the next day, craft show and not sold what we spent on food, as little as we could make it. We did get an order by word of mouth from it, but definitely NOT enough to break even. We've also paid $25 for a weekend baseball tourney and sold hundreds of bux worth of goodies, with orders for more out the yin-yang. It's why we put a business card in everybody's hand that even dares to look our way.
     
  9. ParacordLegend

    ParacordLegend Legend Member

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    Business cards are a great idea :D make a youtube and upload tutorials on how to wrap paracord and you could even make videos of people buying your paracord at places like baseball games. I wouldnt mind watching.
     
  10. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    If your just starting a business selling paracord you don't want to show videos on how you make your products.

    Instead make a video or two about the process of making your products, your workshop, how your started making paracord products and why.

    This in return will spark your customers interest and will make them want to buy from you because they feel they are connecting with you on a personal level.
     
  11. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    How many hours does it take for you to make all those bracelets, etc?

    What sizes do you normally make your pre made bracelets in?
     
  12. TLCparacord

    TLCparacord New Member

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    I haven't clocked all my hours, but (you know), it's just a few minutes per bracelet. Depends on the weave too, of course. My inventory is mostly cobras and king cobras since they are the easiest to make. However I do have quite a few Pirahnas, fishtail & ladder rack bracelets. Sizes are random, and usually between 6 and 8. Rarely have I made them under or over those sizes.

    Lately, it's been all about the monkey fists.....I probably made (and sold)about 50 so far. Profit margin is very low to stay competitive on ebay. (I feel like I'm burning calories for nothing - lol.) After ebay fees, shipping fees, paypal fees and cost for material, it doesn't leave me with much. Not sure how legal they are to sell at craft fairs so I have not offered them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  13. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    I don't sell monkey fists because I don't want someone hurting someone or themselves then trying to blame me. I guess a few warnings and cautions will do but I don't need the hassle.
     
  14. knottystuff4u

    knottystuff4u Paradude

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    If we are at a show and a customer likes stops to see something on our 'premade' display, our big line is, "if you want a different color or need a different size, we can make it for you in a few minutes." Also, nowadays we use the adjustable velcro straps that we've started making. It allows us to have just a couple different jigs set up and we can make a smaller, medium and larger size bracelets without having to adjust for EVERY single bracelet according to the customer's wrist size.
    On the timing question, once a customer chooses colors and I cut and join the two strands, it takes our kids or us just 2-3 minutes of tying and then I snip and singe the tails and finish it up. 10 minutes, tops.
     

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  15. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    You have a good system for your bracelets.

    Sent from my SGH-T999 using Paracord Forum mobile app
     
  16. TLCparacord

    TLCparacord New Member

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    That's a nifty little idea, KS4U! BTW - I started my FB page....It's not done yet but here's the link..

    https://www.facebook.com/TLCParacord?ref=hl
     
  17. knottystuff4u

    knottystuff4u Paradude

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    TLC, I saw the page and sent you a like. Very nice
     
  18. TLCparacord

    TLCparacord New Member

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    Thank you! Not quite done with the page yet....still have to write descriptions / prices / info and stuff.

    Do you ever "promote" your page?....Is it worth it? I think it's like $5-$10 per day or something like that.
     
  19. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    I've read mixed things about the FB promoting. I never tried it and probably never will. There are a lot of ways to promote your page without spending money.
     
  20. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    I just sent both of you likes.